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Inland NW Opera stages ‘The Toy Shop’ for local kids, families

May 17, 2019 GMT

Inland Northwest Opera has a goal to bring more of that theater art to kids, both in Spokane and North Idaho, so it’s offering free regional performances of a children’s opera “The Toy Shop” starting this weekend.

Directed by Maria Caprile, “The Toy Shop” by Seymour Barab’s brings a tale about a toymaker and two of his mechanical dolls who wish they were real. A troublesome magician tries to steal them.

Dawn Wolski, the company’s general director, said this is the first year the group has ventured widely into Spokane with school outreaches and one public performance. In the past, the group held shows mainly around North Idaho.


“This show is really interactive,” Wolski said. “Yes, it’s an opera for the kids, but we try to pick stories that are really accessible to them.

“It’s got a lot of comedy, props and good actors. Our director for this show does a lot of theater for this region, and she gets our singers involved with the kids. They break that fourth wall a lot. They’ll be in the audience a little bit, enlisting the kids help, and really helping them see that art is fun.”

Two public performances are scheduled in Coeur d’Alene, and the third one is in Spokane. The first show is at 4 p.m. Sunday at First Presbyterian Church, 521 E. Lakeside Ave., in Coeur d’Alene.

The second performance is 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Coeur d’Alene Public Library, 702 E. Front Ave., followed by a show 3 p.m. June 1 at Spokane’s West Central Community Center, 1603 N. Belt St.

Also, “The Toy Shop” will be performed in 23 schools regionally between May 20 and June 6.

In the cast are opera students from the University of Idaho and Eastern Washington University, part of the company’s goal to give young performers more public theater experiences. Wolski said kids in the audience can relate to the boy and girl toys made by the toymaker.

“Really, they just want to be human,” she said. “They’re going through that transition a lot of kids are going through; they’re trying to make their own mark in the world and navigate relationships. Then a very naughty character comes in and tries to steal the dolls for his own show.”

The performance runs just under an hour, a good length for children, Wolski added. Songs include “If Only I Could Cry, How Happy I Would Be” and “Love is the Key.”

Caprile is co-director of Winding Road Theatre Ensemble in Tuscon and has been a fixture in the Spokane theater community as a director for Interplayers Theatre and Spokane Civic Theatre. She is also author and director of the original play, “The Little Mermaid: A Tale of Aloha,” produced by Spokane Children’s Theatre.

Members of the cast are Madelein Bowman, soprano as “Pauline,” with Dylan Aguayo, tenor as “Paul,” and Braden House, baritone as “Toymaker.” Edmund Brown, bass, will be “Aaron Blunder,” and the production also includes pianist Jenny Twitchell.